Sunday, November 16, 2008

Life Of Agony: The Lost Interview [2005]

From the moment I first heard them, there was something about Life Of Agony that connected with me, like really connected. As time passed that connection only grew stronger. There were songs on albums like 'River Runs Red' and 'Ugly' that I swear to god were about me...seriously, it was fucking strange, surreal and incredible all at the same time.

While the band changed both personally and musically over the years, I was always on board. Yeah, some of the later stuff was not exactly my favorite, but I was a faithful fan and always liked "my" bands to evolve as long as their initial foundation/style remained intact. Life Of Agony really did neither. Their foundation of an early crossover type band faded rather quick, but what they'd end up embracing, to me, was equally as poweful. Thus the connection.

Because of Midwest Metal, over the years I was lucky enough to strike up a friendly relationship with the band. I'd hang out with, say Keith Caputo when they were in Chicago and through this was able to see and hear things that most people didn't, or shouldn't. The guys as a whole were always super cool and their 1997 break up? I knew about that maybe a month before it happened. I'll never forget Keith asking for an "off the record" moment during an interview while he ripped into a venemous tirade on the state of Life Of Agony circa 1997. Soon after he was gone and while I had a chance to see Life Of Agony with, fuck I can't believe I'm writing this, Whitfield Crane (please stay gone), I just couldn't.

When they returned in late 2003 first for a few reunion shows and followed it up in February 2004 with a tour, I couldn't believe I was getting another chance. I had high hopes for their "comeback" album, 2005's 'Broken Valley'. It was released on Epic Records, it was going to get a massive push and it seemed their second chance would prove fruitful. It was not to be.

Dismal sales of 'Broken Valley' and unable to land the proper support tour, 'B.V.' fell off the radar, quick. Tours with Mudvayne and later on the innagural run of Dave Mustaine's Gigantour were trainwrecks. Poor attendance (Gigantour) and hostile audiences (Mudvayne) seemed to derail the LOA train and they disbanded once again. Being dropped from Epic was a no-brainer as I'm sure someone probably lost their job over the signing and ultimate [sales] failure of 'Broken Valley'.

Would it have been a different story had the band written a classic [aggressive and soulful, some balls out material] Life Of Agony album instead of a few great tracks surrounded by, what sounded like a poor man's Velvet Revolver? Possibly.

My thing with 'Broken Valley' was the band saw the way the people reacted to their reunion as well as the classic setlist that made up the 2003 live CD/DVD 'River Runs Again'...this I know. So why not try to recreate the fire of the material people stood up and devoured? Instead, like I said we got a watered down Alt-Rock album with bits and pieces of a Caputo solo album.

Don't get me wrong, for the most part I like 'B.V.', but it was a pretty dumb "career" move to think they could grab a whole new audience and sail off into the sunset. That's what they had to be thinking because the early Life Of Agony fan wanted nothing to do with the band and no new fans really cared.

The fall of 2005 saw the band on a short headline run. The second I walked in I knew it was over. 14 months earlier the crowd at House of Blues was electric and the place was packed. Now in Mokena at the Pearl Room; there was no one there, Caputo was out of his mind and the vibe of hope meets perserverance was long gone.

The following interview was done in May or June of 2005. This was both supposed to see the light of day in Issue # 28 and be a two part interview. It never printed as by the time it should've run the band was dead and gone, again. Part two never materialized as I'm sure Keith Caputo wanted to talk more about Life Of Agony like he wanted a hole in his head.

None But My Own: Hey Keith, what’s going on today?

Keith Caputo: Um, let’s see what went on today, I had a box of CD’s delivered to my place, my solo stuff that I handle on my own. I refined some lyrics and vocal melodies for a song that Joey Slipknot wrote for me, I’m actually recording that tomorrow…

Oh for the Roadrunner All-Stars album?

Yeah, well, I’m doing it for Joey and I’m trying to ignore the rest, it’s all about Joey. What else did I do today, I stretched for about an hour and right now I’m on my way to New York City.

Cool, so everything is good with you?

Right now, in the present moment I feel great. I had a bad weekend as it was Father’s day so I was kind of emotionally twisted. But right now I’m emotionally relaxed. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow as I’m going to hang out with my Uncle.

With the good comes the bad so I’d like to talk about the tour you guys did in support of Mudvayne.

The band decided to fight through it, you know? There was, well there were a lot of kids in Milwaukee that weren’t feeling us and that was the second night of the tour and was so bad that night that half the band wanted to leave the tour that night. Half the band didn’t want to so we put our heads together and thought it’d be the best thing to fight through it.
We have respect for the Mudvayne guys, Ryan and Chad were great guys, they were the only guys I spoke to, so we decided to finish it out. The way I feel, who cares if one thousand kids hated us every night?

Well that is the Life Of Agony way, the way the band always did things differently…doing your own thing whether people liked it or not.

I was the vocal outcast on that tour, but you know what? I liked it. I was always used to being the oddball or the bad seed or the outcast in some form or another so to me, it was home.
In a sick way, I can see that.

Yeah, and personally I wasn’t disheartened I was very challenged. Yeah some nights it really got to me, I’d walk off the stage and I’d be like “fuck you…you fucking fifteen year old kids don’t have a fucking clue.” I’d be screaming back at sixteen year old girls, it was ridiculous how young the audience was, it was a big radio crowd.

It was very tough to see you guys in that kind of environment, especially in Chicago where you’ve had some amazing shows over the years…

Oh man, that was a tough show I had a tough time getting into it, actually.

What were your thoughts on the tour before it started, was it just a matter of getting out there and hoping to pick up a few people here and there?

Well we kind of knew that it was the wrong crowd, going into it. But at the time that’s all that was being offered business wise. We were thinking about going out with Papa Roach, we just weren’t sure.

Here’s a good question. Whom do you see Life Of Agony being the most compatible with? I mean it’s like the band is too deep and heavy for the radio crowd, not heavy enough for the aggro bands so where do you see the band “fitting in”?

Two answers…either the band needs to “blow up” and be able to do its own thing like a Metallica or Evanescence where the cult following grows to amazing heights. With ‘Broken Valley’ I’d love to see Life Of Agony working with other bands like Queens of the Stone Age or Foo Fighters or maybe Audioslave, Velvet Revolver, bands of that nature. But it’s probably best if we were able to go a few times platinum and basically did our own thing…

And be able to call your own shots

Yeah, exactly and lived it like that. I just don’t think we fit in with anyone or anything in a way.

I’d like to back up a little bit, a few years really. Before the Irving Plaza shows you were based out of Holland and then every now and then you’d come to NYC and do, like CBGB’s basement and do intimate gigs like that. So in 2000, 2001, 2002 what was your mindset and how often are/were you thinking about Life Of Agony?

During that time I was still very determined, I worked with great people and had some great experiences. I worked with Gerry Leonard, who is now David Bowie’s band leader. I worked with him, what, five years ago before he got that gig. I worked with a couple of guys from Lenny Kravitz’ band I had Jeff Thall from the Velvet Underground, I had a lot of great players with me, I learned a lot.

Creatively I was in a different space. When I’d do a New York show it was just who I could get together quickly to spontaneously get on a stage it wasn’t something that was well thought out nor did I really want it to be, I really didn’t care it was just about filling up the room which I knew I could do. So it was just singing some real naked stuff when I was back home. But how often did I think of LOA?


Not that often, really. You know sometimes I thought I’d love to rock out again, maybe do another record, the right record. But it was all idle dreaming, I never thought, expected or anticipated to really get back with them. I was doing my own thing, living in Holland, I did a tour where Coldplay opened for me, I toured with Travis, I did the Rolling Stones Road Show there wasn’t a place in Europe where I couldn’t fill a room up. I got to play some great festivals with Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails, Neil Young.

So other than problems with Roadrunner and certain staff people, I was doing well. I was in a great mindset, I felt free I was moving on and moving along trying to survive. However at the same time I was going through some shit with my Dad who wanted to kill himself at that point so I was going through stuff with him.

He got locked up a few years later and during that time my Fathers parents, my grandparents were really, really sick so I got rid of my place in Amsterdam and I came back to take care of them because he couldn’t. I helped my Aunt basically clean my grandfathers shit, living with the live in nurse. The first night my father was free from jail was the night he O.D.’d. So that was when I kind of rooted myself back in New York.

I was selling my CD’s on-line, writing new music and just doing a Van Gogh. A Van Gogh is basically locking myself up, doing a lot of yoga, doing a lot of intoxicating myself, doing a lot of writing a lot of transcending you know? I have an abundance of songs that are very naked, Dylan style, very vulnerable stuff I’ve written over the years. I’ve gotten very Brain Eno on myself, discovered the world of ambience and just took my talents elsewhere.

Not radio friendly at all, I mean it probably could set radio trends but this world is too afraid of people like me. I have yet to meet an A&R guy who had the guts to take me on as a solo artist, someone who needs a lot of artistic time for the label to develop, because the artist itself is already developed.

It’s about rewiring the corporate mind, there’s still a lot of older people are still in the business, they have their jobs and as the (music) business shrinks these people that do not want to take cuts in their salary, it’s the more proactive people in the business that end up losing their jobs. I agree an artist, no matter what style of music they create will not be able to grow and prosper unless their product moves massive amounts, it’s sad, but simple. So tell me how the LOA seed becomes planted in your head.

It all starts with those reunion shows which were great. I was very, very, very surprised that Life Of Agony sold out Irving Plaza two nights in a row…because the last night of LOA’s “career” or whatever you want to call it back in 1997, the night before I left the band was at Irving Plaza.

And on that night we were very shy of selling it out so to come back seven years later and sell that motherfucker out in like ten minutes…I thought people were messing with my brain. People would tell me “see all these years you waited” this and that but, it was true.

But how do you dive, head first back into the whole…

Well at this point in my life I’m at a stage where I want to embrace all things. I want to display my compassion, I want to give my compassion, I want to serve others I want to make things work. As hard as things may become, I want to work at them. It’s easy. I’ve grown a lot, I’ve awakened myself a lot and I’m not as chaotically disordered as I was in the past.

As a young’n I was all about revolt, I’m still about destroying as well but I’m a bit more…if rationale does exist in my vocabulary (laughs). I’m not a practical human being, but what is practical? But back to the question, it was excitement! The band didn’t really jump right into it again, we did the gigs but we still weren’t a “band”.

At that point we didn’t label ourselves a “band” we didn’t know if I was going to go back to Europe, Joey was still contractually bound to Columbia, Alan had Among Thieves and Sal was in Suppermassiv and other things going for him so we did the two shows were like “Wow, we’re still capable”, you know? So all of these thoughts and feelings boiled for months afterwards so it wasn’t an overnight thing at all.

It took night after night after night of dreaming again and wondering inquisitively how it would be again and what would happen if we did these things. Shortly after our decision we did a four song demo consisting of “Love To Let You Down”, “The Calm That Disturbs You”, “Justified” and “The Day He Died” we did that demo in one day.

Shortly after I took Joey to a Velvet Revolver show and saw [ex-Sheer Terror guitarist] Mark Newman who’d been at Epic for like fourteen years, he heard we had a demo and he wanted one.

So of course we had no expectations and had nothing to lose so we got it to him and Ben who’s the vice president loved it and wanted to see us live, he came to see us at Hellfest, of all places! And then meeting after meeting they wanted to sign us. We had done an incredible sold out European tour where we got to play with Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, David Bowie, the Pixies and we were successful, no matter where we went and who we played with. It was even bigger and better , more blood thirsty than it ever was and with that we wanted to write a new record, so we did.

How was it writing with the guys again? After all it’d been seven years and each of you had moved on to your own bands all of which were different, stylistically from one another. All of a sudden you’re working together again were there a lot of compromises?

We were very collaborative with it. Alan and I, we’ve never had a problem in the band and for many years even during the break up days, Alan was always the guy to go to and talk to, he knew about everything. He knew everything about me. There were never any secrets Alan and I have a great friendship so for this record we even went deeper with one another.

We went deeper with our talents of throwing words down on paper and we’d go word for word, chorus for chorus we just, lyrically dropped major bombs together on this. Just very meaningful stuff, real thought out Dylan type of shit. Musically, I brought in a couple of songs on my own that worked, some didn’t work. I had a song called “Paperman” that was a bit too poppy but Alan and I did the music together and I did the lyrics.

Joey and I did ‘Calm…’ together, Sal and I did “Junksick”. “Wicked Ways” and “Justified” was a lot of Alan’s music, I would change a verse here and there but it was really cool it was very open.

Now you guys went away to do the writing, right?

Yeah we went to Woodstock, NY to write…you know we had some tense moments you know? We’d start at like 11:00 am and write music until 8 or 9 pm and it can kinda get to you a little bit. At first, when things weren’t really working we didn’t know how to handle it, so we’d work it, rework it and then rework it again until we decided if it wasn’t working we’d just fuck it off completely and move forward. I’d say we were very detached from the whole process.

Some people say “people never really change”, I know this for a fact to be true. How was it personally working with each other again?

Yeah, yeah sometimes we all experience that with one another, and that’s OK. I mean we’re all different people and we handle ourselves and the situations differently. When Sal gets really moody we know how to handle it. When I get moody we know, when Joey gets quiet on and on and on, we know how to communicate now.

In the past we never really communicated why we don’t like certain things, now I think we talk a little too much to tell you the truth…

Do you think it all happened too fast? I mean 1993-1997

Probably…for me yeah, you know for everyone definitely. I almost went Cobain, emotionally I had just had it with everything.

I remember those days, I remember that period and I knew you were bothered by it.

You know, you want to do something good in your life and you just can’t understand why all this bad is coming to you…drugs, liars, thieves, crooked lawyers, empty promises, dickhead band members and you’re like “what the fuck is going on?” So at that point you start to think “Is this my calling or isn’t it?”

It’s strange to have things ruined by people who aren’t even in the damn band, you know?

Well at certain times in your life you handle things a certain way and you know what? In order to create you need to destroy. And I needed to destroy that to create a new path for myself, a new spirit. I gave everyone the greatest gift that one could give them, I gave them themselves because no one was themselves anymore.

I felt I needed to get back to where I came from and so did the other guys but no one wanted to “face the music”. No one had the courage to fucking make a change like that and I did. I wanted to follow my heart and I didn’t give a fuck who was working for us, what was gong on blah, blah, blah. I had to make a change for myself and it was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make in my life and I made it. I’m proud that I did and I don’t regret a fucking minute of it.

Of course you don’t, it’s been quite a journey up to this point.

The band wouldn’t be the band it is today and we wouldn’t have come out with ‘Broken Valley’ if I didn’t follow through. If I’m going to do something it’s all or nothing and I can’t pretend to have a good time on stage if I wasn’t so I fucked off.

I figured that my fans would understand that “hey, the guy’s unhappy.” Tom, it took a lot of people a long time to understand, I mean I was way over everyone’s head for a very long time. All the heckling I would get, all the disbelievers in my decision it was like, Do you know how many people I listen to, none and I am such a better person for it. Maybe we blew our shot? Maybe that [1997] was the shot?

Maybe if I would’ve held on just a little bit longer…maybe I could’ve flown you to do this interview somewhere!

Let’s move into the future and talk of ‘Broken Valley’. To me it plays like a concept album, is that intentional? Is this a concept album?

No…you just get the record, you know what I mean? The band has always loved Pink Floyd and loved ‘The Wall’, ‘Final Cut’ and ‘Animals’ and how those were parts 1-2-3 and 4.

We weren’t deliberately trying to make a concept record it just happened that way. As a whole when you intertwine everything there’s a lot of stuff going on lyrically about my Dad and the heartache he’d lived. There’s a lot of forgiveness in the record and it can intertwine, but it wasn’t meant to be like that.

It’s not a very long record, but I think that helps it stand out, it’s meant to be digested in full. But for your band that’s a scary thing because of the whole radio format and “hit single” shit.

It’s a great record, man. That’s what we set out to do, we didn’t want to come out with two singles and a bunch of filler. We did it old school style and when I say old school I’m talking Led Zeppelin, the Doors and really put together a record as a whole and it really has to say something.

Old Metal Mag I [Continued]

Here's more from the Metal Mania pictured below. 1986 Master of Puppets era Metallica. Business as usual interview until the update on page 4. What an amazing era for Heavy of our own was really making headway and you could just feel the shift. Enjoy...

(Click pages to enlarge)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Old Metal Mag I

More times than not, I'm going to raid the vast Metal Magazine collection of mine and share it with you. Sometimes it will just be for fun, sometimes it will be to bust balls on the band and what was said. Mostly though, just to kill some time. The first here is a SLAYER piece from Metal Mania (who later morphed into Metal Maniacs) from April of 1987. I'm guessing the article was done sometime in 1986. Anyway, enjoy and as always discuss amongst yourselves and watch for more from this issue later...

(Click Pages to Enlarge)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Big Vin Records seeks Graphic Designer...NOW!

Former PANTERA and current HELLYEAH drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott will publish a paperback photo book/DVD on his late brother, PANTERA guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, on November 18 via Vinnie's Big Vin label. Entitled "He Came To Rock", the book will contain over 400 pictures of Dimebag along with a biography of his life written by authors Susan Doll and David Morrow.

Also included will be personal tributes from a number of metal's most prominent musicians, among them SLAYER's Kerry King, ANTHRAX's Scott Ian and OZZY OSBOURNE/BLACK LABEL SOCIETY's Zakk Wylde. The DVD portion of the package will consist of the previously released "DimeVision - Vol 1: That's The Fun I Have", complete with never-before-seen bonus footage.

The book was compiled by Vinnie and his father Jerry Abbott and has been in the works for more than a year. "We are very excited about this as it's a true tribute to the King himself!" Vinnie previously stated.

Somebody, anybody…please tell me this is NOT the cover of this book.

With all due respect to Dime and his incredible musical and personal legacy…what the fuck is wrong with his brother? How can he continue to green light such juvenile looking shit? This has got to be a joke or a temporary mock-up because you cannot put this thing on the shelves with this cover.

It looks like Cletus the slack-jawed yokel from the Simpsons designed it! The saying “you can’t judge a book by it’s cover” hopefully rings true because this is laughable. With all the people kissing the drummer’s ass, none of them are graphic designers?

None of them have fonts designed after 1998? I suppose to top it all off there’s the horrible and just virtually pointless ‘Dimevision Vol. 1’ DVD they’re including with the book. How can something more than a year in the making look like such shit? As a collector of Rock/Heavy Metal books, I'm insulted.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Fuck Yeah!

New issue of Metal Hammer out of the UK. James Hetfield/METALLICA cover. Nothing out of the ordinary, right?
Start of the four page feature, a very good interview with some killer Ross Halfin shots. So the interview leads off with Lars Ulrich...

Holy and re-read again. Ulrich, Flynn, Barton and well, me. I don't know what else to say, but 'thanks to both Lars and Robb'.

Electric Wizard: Hand of Doom has a tight grip on me

The be all, end all of heavy in my book is and probably always shall be Electric Wizard. From Doom setting standards such as ‘Come My Fanatics’, ‘Let Us Prey’ and the granddaddy of them all, ‘Dopethrone’, Electric Wizard are a band who always seem to fucking nail it.

Over the past few years it’s been somewhat tough to keep up with the band. From multiple member changes to the perpetual low profile they keep, being an Electric Wizard fan can be tough at times.

Because of the hermit-like existence, news that the band had completed recording of a new album was like being a kid on X-mas eve, you knew there was a present waiting for you but you had no idea what it was. ‘Witchcult Today’ is an album that succeeds on many different levels. There’s the foundation of the band, which is some of the heaviest Doom ever laid on tape…but it’s the other things accomplished on ‘Witchcult Today’, the "x" factors if you will that makes this album one of their finest yet.

There’s a catchiness to the material that is done without sacrificing any of the “extremity”. The songs where these elements shine through are some of the finest the band have ever written.

As of this writing there’s been another member change with Bassist Rob Al-Issa out and a new 4-stringer in, but that’s just minor details as the band truly revolves around it’s founder. Justin Oborn is not only a mad genius, conjuring up tales of sorcery and invoking all kinds of demonic talismans disguised as songs, but he’s also a unique guy who really only cares about one thing…well make that two things as we discuss here.

Essential past recordings are important, but ‘Witchcult Today’ is a record that stands on its own now and presumably forever.

None But My Own: Congrats on the new album man.
Jus Oborn: Cheers man! All I can is is we really tried on this one (laughs).
Before we get going on ‘Witchcult Today’ I wanted to back track a little to the touring you did in support of ‘We Live’. I know you did some touring with Cathedral but right after that it seemed as if Justin [Greaves-Drums] was out of the band. What happened there?

Well he was out of the band, uh, soon after that tour, so I guess you could draw your own conclusions to that situation…

Was it just the “you learn the most about people on the road” or what?

Yeah, a little bit of that, you definitely know a person after touring with them and another thing was I just wanted the band a little rougher sounding, you know? But we had some good gigs with him it was writing that didn’t work out.

Well the new stuff is unreal as far as it’s heaviness but it’s got this “groove” that just hits you, it’s definitely a memorable listening experience, this record. Do you remember what was the first song written for ‘Witchcult Today’ was?

Um, “Satanic Rites of Drugula” I believe. The idea for this song goes back a long way but the final version isn’t that much different than what we’ve had. “The Chosen Few” is another early song as well, I was writing that while I was working..[laughing] that’s why it’s got that vibe. Working doesn’t bring out the best vibes, you know? So a good riff came out of it, I was just like feeling it “fuck the world”, “fuck this”, “fuck the man” (laughs).

I guess I was just playing the role, like a method actor or something. But if you think about it all the original heavy bands were the same way, pissed off and wanting to be heard…

So once you have the first two songs written did it steer you in the right direction as far as a whole piece of music goes?

Yeah, definitely. When we started jamming with Shaun (Rutter-D) the riffs we had laying around for a few years really started to sound good. Then it took off from there, the vibe of the music was there.

Did the personalities help to solidify this vibe? I know in the past there’s been issues within the band as far as everyone getting along, but how’s the vibe with Shaun?

To me, the idea of a band is something to do with your friends. The people you like to hang out with, like a cult or something! Everyone brings the Doom, the heaviness… everyone is into it! There’s 100% dedication. Liz (Buckingham-G) and I will write the riffs and then we get together with Shaun. Shaun’s got a great attitude, he just wants to play the drums as heavy and as slowly as possible.

Everyone’s into it, that’s what counts.

Was there anything more influential than others during the writing of, well even the past few years for you?

No, not really anything that stands out. Just the same stuff, movies and music but just more and more, and more of it (laughs)! I mean anything to cope with this mundane existence…like dirty comic books from the 70’s and watching fucked up movies. Those things and of course there’s a lot of weed involved. So the music is just a product of my sick mind and the weird thing is some people dig it and that’s pretty weird.

In the middle of writing, do you tend to look at the older material differently? I mean what’s a new album to a band but them trying to improve on what they’ve done in the past, right?

Yeah, agreed. I’m really into the new songs, we had a chance to play them live in Japan recently and the new songs sound really, really good next to the old shit. Right now we’ve got a really killer live set man. I mean we could go out and play a “greatest hits” sort of set (laughing)!

I was going to get to that, but how was Japan and how was Church Of Misery?
It was wild! Everyone say’s that but that’s because it really is! They’re really into Electric Wizard and that blew me away. Church of Misery were wicked! They were really killer live, even wilder live that on record. It was a really good tour, they’ve got that shit down.

Did you go record shopping there? That’s a dream of mine.

Oh man, you can’t stop yourself once you’re there. I mean there’s record shops that are like seven stories high where each floor is like a different genre of music, totally fucked up! And there are tons of these shops like that, not just one or two. They’d even play Electric Wizard while we were in there, we had to go with it even though it was a little strange, but they were so fucking polite (laughs)!

Were you able to score some pot out there?

Yeah, surprisingly! And some of it wasn’t that bad, really. Very expensive though, like three times what you’d pay in America or even Europe…but it’s a tour expense anyway, so it’s not as painful.

Jus(R) and ex-Drummer Mark (L) in higher times USA 2002

Have you paid any attention to the press for ‘Witchcult Today’? It seems like I have yet to see a review where ‘Dopethrone’ is not mentioned.

I’ve seen some of the English reviews. I usually just go down to the shops and have a look, and what I’ve seen has actually been pretty good. Yeah, you’re right about the ‘Dopethrone’ thing. It’s funny, when we finished this record and I was thinking about it and I was thinking “this is terrible and it should’ve been more like ‘Dopethrone’” I’ve been hearing that for a long time and I almost started to think that for a minute when the record was done.

But I think the music really speaks for itself, I mean I’m almost "40" I should be able to at least write a decent tune (laughs)! But during the mastering I realized “this is it”, I was really proud of it and I was like “let’s write another album now (laughing)!

If I’m in the right frame of mind I swear ‘Witchcult Today’ could almost be an unreleased Sabbath album. It’s got actual songs and hooks left and right. But it’s bludgeoning at the very same time. A song like “Dunwitch” is almost like “Pop Doom”, which I mean as a total compliment (laughing)!

Well yeah that’s what Sabbath did and it didn’t do any harm to them, did it? I like to remember a song, fuck, it’s something to hum in your head when you’re working in the factory all day.

How was working with an actual producer (Liam Watson) for the first time?

It was cool, the coolest thing was to work with someone who actually knew what the fuck they were doing (laughs)! I’m not sure what everyone else’s opinion on working with a producer, but working with Liam…he’s into music. He’s into trying to make the band sound as good as they can and offer help if it’s necessary.

A few people have asked me if he changed any of our songs but, I mean that wasn’t even on the agenda, that’s not what it was about. He told us many times, “whatever you want to do on the album, I’ll make it happen.” That’s how “Black Magic Rituals & Perversions” happened, every idea we had, he made happen.

You know that “song” for what it is, even though it’s more of a piece of sound versus a traditional song it’s really effective. The drums in there are just beyond heavy and the whole outro is just brutal. The drums are excellent all over ‘Witchcult Today’.

Yeah Shaun has been drumming for a long time…

Is he a current or “recovering” Metalhead?
Oh yeah, he was Metal at birth…he’s probably got a huge steel plate in his head (laughing)! But yeah, he’s an old school biker and he fits in great.

In the past Electric Wizard recording sessions were always memorable in one way or another. You guys have camped both in and outside the studio for ‘Dopethrone’ and ‘Let Us Prey’. Any stories from ‘Witchcult Today’?
This last time we recorded in London, probably the worst district in London…ever

Worst as in ghetto?

Yeah, and we had to get a hotel for the recording because you’d be nuts to sleep outdoors around there, especially there. So we stayed at Motel Hell (laughs) but I did miss staying in the country.

Whose idea was it to record at Toe Rag?

Actually that’s Liam’s own studio he built. You know how most studios are all nice and clean with plush carpeting?

Yeah, sure.

Well this was more like a nuclear bunker! It was cold and filled with grey equipment with huge wheels on them, so yeah it was different.

How long had ‘Witchcult Today’ been kicking around in your head?

The title actually came after we finished recording the album. We had recorded the song, but it didn’t have a title, then it got a title and that became the name of the album. Just something that grew from the lyrics, it’s really my take on a 70’s Satanic Porno Magazine type of thing.

Lyrically you’re going some different places, I think “Satanic Rites of Drugula” is about the coolest fucking thing I’ve heard in years.

(Laughing) Well it’s got to be the best song title, ever, huh (laughs)?! That’s the after effects of smoking weed at 6:30 in the morning and going to work. But really it’s, one one level about Bobby Liebling [Pentagram]..but also it’s the movies and the comic books all mixed together. But there are a lot of lyrics that came together right before I recorded them….I mean you’re at the hotel smoking bong after bong after listening to fucking Doom all day long you start writing and just go wild. So yeah, they came together pretty naturally.

There’s some stuff lyrically that really conjures up some mental images as I want every line to evoke the visuals of the song and what’s it’s about. I haven’t got any messages...none.

Just a minute ago we were talking about the press and I’d like to hear your opinion on ‘We Live’ several years later. I read a lot of current thoughts on it and a lot of shit is thrown on the record. While it’s not my favorite Wizard release, I see it as an important release that sort of kept the band alive. If you hadn’t released something I think people would’ve just thought the band was dead, with the original line-up gone and semi lengthy time span between releases.

I see it that way I see it too. I like the tunes on it, fuck, I think it fits in there [EW catalog]. Maybe it was like you had to clear the slate to start again, and that’s what we did. I like the record but I don’t enjoy it production wise and how the finished product came out.
Are the days of endless touring over for Electric Wizard? It seems like these days it’s one-offs and while you hit em hard, you’re back home before you know it.

Yeah, that’s what it’s going to be one off’s and maybe some bigger kind of shows. We really want to be able to concentrate on the performance and not only that but the production as well too. The lights and all that…I don’t like how shows are presented these days, too gay looking. There’s got to be a way of making them heavier which I think can be done, like a proper horror show…like Venom used to do. We’d love to do something like that! Conan's Axe-Chicago 2002

Instead of the pentagrams you could have the “W” logo with the upside down crosses!
Yeah, and they’d of course shoot fire and flames